Mama’s Punjabi Recipes — Besan di Sabzi or Gutte (Gram Flour Curry or Gutte)








Besan (roasted gram flour or garbanzo flour or chickpea flour) is a flour that is commonly used all over India to make pakoras or fried fritters, one of the most favorite and easy to make snacks which can be found at almost every street corner halwai or cooking vendor. The flour, when mixed with a few spices, adds zest as batter for vegetables and it is just a delight to eat hot, pakoras – never mind that they are fried! Pakoras are, after all, Indian comfort food.

The other most common dish that besan is used in is kaddi (see IAN dated Jan. 18, 2013), another favorite all across the country, though the Punjabi variety is thicker. But besan has its other uses. You can make boondi (besan fried drops) to put in dahi (yogurt) or laddus (sweet balls) – either fried and in syrup or made of roasted, sweetened flour; or simply besan ki barfi (sweetened flat cake) or pooda (see IAN dated May 10, 2013).

Besan is high in carbohydrates and somewhat high in protein and has no gluten, which makes it not suitable for those trying to lose weight (especially when it is fried).

This dish is a typically Punjabi rural dish which has now found favor with wedding parties in India. When the besan rolls are made, they resemble a vegetarian sausage. Many Punjabis also call the dish gutte which probably refers to the small, cut pieces that simmer in the curry.

This dish comes in quite handy when you sometimes wonder what to make or there isn’t any vegetable in the house. It is quite a tasty dish, and since it is unusual, the first time eater will not be able to figure out exactly what it is.

Ingredients for gutte or rolls: 

•  250 gm besan (roasted gar  banzo or chickpea flour)

•   ¼ cup garam pani (luke  warm water)

•   4 cups thanda pani (cold  water)

•   ¼ cup tael (vegetable oil; some may prefer ghee or  clarified butter)

•   Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), 1/2  tspn ajawain (carom seeds)

Ingredients for curry masala: 

•  1 large pyaaz (onion) – peeled  and chopped

•  2 cloves of lasan (garlic) –   peeled and chopped

•  1 medium adrak (ginger) –   peeled and chopped

•  1 small tamater (tomato) or 1  teaspoon tomato paste

•  Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi  (turmeric), garam masala 


1. Mix the besan and oil together with the spices into a dough. Add the lukewarm water and knead the flour into a medium hard dough. The dough should be harder than the dough used to make roti or chappatis.

2. Place 4 cups of cold water and bring to a boil.

3.   Take a piece of dough, place it on a board. Put a dab of oil on the palm of each hand and roll it on the board into a thin, long roll, about 6 inches long. Make rolls out of all the dough and place on a plate.

4.    Gently place each roll into the boiling water and leave in for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the water cool down with the rolls inside. After the water is cool, take the rolls out and place on a plate and cut into 1 inch long pieces. Keep the water for making the curry.

5.    Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot, throw in the tomato paste, onions, ginger and garlic and spices and brown them while stirring to make the masala. Turn the heat down to extreme low so as not to burn the spices and stir to mix thoroughly.

6.  Now put the cut rolls into the masala and stir well to coat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, till the rolls become slightly brown.

7.  Now add the saved water and bring it to a boil; then turn the heat off and let the besan rolls sit for 30 minutes before serving. Punjabis usually eat this with hot chappatis or tandoori roti.

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.